Israel has stopped 1,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine that are intended for front-line medical workers from entering the besieged Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila said in a statement on Monday that Israel bore “full responsibility” for blocking the shipment acquired by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The PA has said it will share its vaccine supply with Gaza, where Hamas has been in power since a violent power struggle in 2007. The enclave, which is home to more than two million Palestinians, has yet to receive any vaccines. Authorities there have reported more than 53,000 infections and at least 537 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The PA has acquired about 2,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.
Israel – which is carrying out one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns per capita – has faced international calls to share its stocks as an occupying power with Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.
Gaza has been under siege by both Israel and Egypt for more than a decade, during which time Israel launched three military assaults on the Strip, devastating much of coastal enclave’s infrastructure, including its healthcare facilities.